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Spain breaks up prostitution ring with Russian sex-slaves

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MADRID, April 7 (RIA Novosti) - Police in Spain has broken up an international criminal ring which dealt in trafficking women from Russia and forcing them to become prostitutes, a local police official said Saturday.

"The Catalonian police have stopped the activities of a criminal gang in Costa Brava that brought women from Russia and forced them to become sex-slaves," the police source said.

The majority of 40 women, freed from sex-slavery in a special police operation, came from St. Petersburg and had been held in captivity under threats of physical violence, the official said.

Seven people, including the leader of the gang - an Albanian citizen - have been arrested and now are facing criminal charges of human-trafficking and organizing a prostitution ring.

Among other members of the gang are three Russians, an Albanian, a native of Kosovo, and an Armenian citizen.

According to the Russian Interior Ministry, human trafficking from Russia has intensified in recent years.

Criminal groups involved in this highly-profitable business normally recruit groups of several women, promising to buy them tourist visas and help them find legal work abroad. The women are then forced into prostitution to pay for money spent on their travel abroad and their documents are stolen, leaving the women as sexual slaves.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported last year that more than 500,000 women have been sold from Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union in early 1990s.

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